Brinks said goodbye to Varella and went back to his office chair. He sat there with the report in front of him doodling on his pad as he drew an ankh and a pyramid. A murder! Murders weren’t supposed to happen in this small suburban town. That’s why he’d moved here. This was an upper class town. All the murders and the drugs and the crime was supposed to happen next door. In the city. Of course, here in the bay area, you could never tell where one city ended and where the next one started. They all ran into each other, all the way from San Francisco to Gilroy. Just like the suburbs in the other big city many years ago. The one he’d left. The one that had sucked his soul out of him and left him a rotten husband and an ineffective father.
That city had been an addiction. A destructive addiction. A lover that required every part of you and if you gave it what it wanted you were as good as dead, and if you didn’t you withered away. You thrived on it and yet it killed you. As a young cop he’d actually believed that he could make a difference. He’d actually believed that the city was mainly good, composed of mainly good people, and it was his job just to weed out the occasional bad apple.
But then he’d seen the mother leave her baby to die in the alley, he’d seen the 14 year old drug dealers, with young kid’s bodies and old men’s cruel eyes. He’d seen the rut of the prostitutes and the effects of greed. He’d gotten sick of slimy liars, making excuses for their sick actions. You could never trust them. They all lied all the time, and would try to get away with everything from murder to stealing gum from a 7-11. You had to constantly watch them. And so he’d gone through a phase where he believed they all deserved it. He believed that they got just what they asked for. So he joined the Vice and weeded them out. First he cursed the kids, then he cursed the parents of the kids that made them grow up the way they did. The parents who allowed them to grow up the way they did. And he cursed the system that forced the parents to do what they did. And then when he was done with that, he cursed the God that had created them this way.
But the things he saw made him take great care in the way he brought up his own family. The contrast was going to be great. His kids would be successful, they’d be the model students, the stars. And his rule at home was strict and sound. And though Jimmy who was the youngest decided to move out at the age of eighteen and work, unlike the first two, who had gone off to big name colleges, Brinks was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. He’d made it and now he could focus on his career. He still had hopes for Jimmy who had always been his favorite. The boy took after his father, athletic and active. Jimmy reminded Brinks of himself, thirty some years ago, independent and strong headed and not really academic. But there was still time.
But the end came six years ago, when at what should have been the height of his career he’d decided to leave it all. That night that had ended it had been like any other summer night, hot and muggy and sticky. But it was a different night. They’d worked on this one for months now. The careful waiting, listening to the street, the methodical planning, the informants and the plants. And that night it all came to a head. Everything for the last four months had been for this moment, everything they had said, everything they had done, every moment of stress and tension had been to set this night up, to set this hour up. And the man for whom everything had been set up was Bernardo S. Francisco, otherwise known as Dr. Franco. Dr. Franco was the south end supplier. He was the Colombian contact, his men brought the pure cocaine in and redistributed it to the various local dealers. There it would be mixed down with baking soda and **** until 1 pound of pure cocaine would become five pounds of street cocaine. Tonight there would be five players in the game. Franco, one of his henchmen Carlos and a small time Anglo pusher only known as “the Pinch.” Jose’ and Ben were the last two players, they were the plants, the narcs, the cops. Normally big distributors didn’t fuss with the small time pushers, but Dr. Franco always started slow with new contacts, then as they proved their worth, he’d upgrade them. According to Jose’, the Pinch was only in this because he was trying to get into the big time. It was the Pinch who’d gotten them the initial contact with Carlos. But the Pinch didn’t know they were cops. To him they were just two Hispanics who were in the business.
That hot muggy night they sat in the TV repair van, waiting for the signal. Jose’ and Ben were in the small broken down motel office making the trade. The suitcase with $50 G’s sat outside, small money for big stakes. The plan was quite simple, when the trade was due to happen, Ben would step out and collect the suitcase from his shiny Cadillac, then he’d go back in, leaving the motel door unlocked. 30 seconds later Brink’s men would rush in, money on the table, dope in the open, it would be an open and shut case. In the back of his mind Brinks hoped Franco would pull a gun, that would save the city about a million dollars in trial and prison costs. He was about to regret ever having that hope.
Things started to go wrong when Ben came out to collect the money. Under the flashing motel vacancy sign he very discretely flashed them 5 fingers as he unlocked the door of the Caddy. That meant that there were two extra men in the motel office. That quadrupled the danger for Ben and Jose’. But the die was cast, it was now or never. They went in! Though by rank this was his bust and he should have led it, by the time they’d bursted across the parking lot, Brink’s age and lack of fitness had put him in towards the rear of the 7 man assault team. They wore black flak jackets with large white letters that clearly identified them as “Police” and they hit the door. But the door took longer to open than they expected. It took 3 bullets to splinter the lock, apparently someone had locked the door despite Ben’s attempt to leave it open. That delay would cost them dearly, very dearly.
Inside the motel office, Carlos had walked to the window and was gazing out of it while the men behind him traded money for white death. Carlos was sweating. He’d done this dealing thousands of times, but it was always tense. That is why he was still alive. That is why he was so valuable to Franco. And today Franco had put his money on the right man. The instant Carlos saw the TV van door open up, he knew it was a trap. There are two things you can do when you are trapped by the narcs, accept defeat and have your lawyers get you out of it, or fight your way out and go underground. Either way, it meant a drastic change of life. Either way it meant giving up the things you liked, the things you needed, either way Carlos didn’t like it. He screamed in Spanish, “It’s a trap!” To Ben this is when things started slowing down. It all happened in slow motion as to his horror Carlos pulled out a semiautomatic pistol and pumped one, two, three bullets into Jose’, and in reflex action his own gun came out and removed the side of Carlos’ chest. He whirled round to Franco, but the Dr. had already pulled his own gun and Ben felt his shoulder explode. Then the Police team was through the door and even as he fell he watched Franco get hit and crumple like a rag doll as two of his flak jacketed teammates fired simultaneously. His last thought before passing out was, “I wonder where the Pinch went?”
There were two more of Franco’s goons, the first had pulled off a shot and hit one of the incoming policemen in the chest, the officer had been thrown back forcibly but his flak jacket absorbed the blow and left him only bruised. The next officer through the door put a bullet cleanly through the man’s lungs. The last man panicked and threw his gun down screaming his surrender in Spanish, today was not a good day to die.
Brinks was still outside, he’d seen how long it was taking to get the door open and he knew that there’d be enough time for someone to get out through a window out back. He sprinted for the rear. Sure enough, someone was breaking the small window and was trying to crawl out. The man did not look Hispanic, Brinks figured it was the Pinch.
The Pinch was in a panic, he’d had a few close calls before, but this was horrible, he’d seen Carlos kill that narc in cold blood and had never imagined that this could have been the result of his actions. He madly crawled through the window, cutting himself severely but not caring as he pulled his arm away from the glass, the panic making him ignore the pain as his flesh caught and tore.
Brinks heard the gunshots from the inside and his heart was in his mouth, both Ben and Jose’ were very close friends of his. You got that way after spending hours and hours with each other on stake outs, you got that way when your lives depended on each other. One of these days, he’d have to take them home and introduce them to Clara and the boys.
The Pinch had made it through the window and was on the ground, his back was to Brinks and he had no idea yet that this was the end of the line for him, Brinks wondered why the Pinch’s back reminded him of someone he knew. He raised his revolver and aimed it straight at the Pinch’s head, this boy was going nowhere. Then the Pinch turned around.
If Brinks ever put a time and date on the moment when his entire world caved in and when he had lost the will to live it was right then. But it was not a moment he’d ever share with anyone. Brinks heart started to pound as they stared in horror at each other. Then Jimmy slowly, never saying a word backed away, step by step and then in an instant scaled the low compound wall and disappeared from his father’s life forever. Brinks stood there, the unused gun forgotten in his hand, his will for existence extinguished.
Brinks had never told Clara, it would have broken her heart, just like it had broken his. In fact he had never told anyone. Once or twice a year around Christmas and her birthday Clara would get a letter from Jimmy, but it never said where he was, just that he was OK, and he never left a return address. To Brinks his son was dead.
For the next few years Brinks would continue over and over to ponder on why Jimmy had done what he’d done. Had he failed as a father? If he’d been richer, would Jimmy have been less attracted by the wealth brought by drugs. If he’d not spent so much time on stake outs would his son have grown up the right way? But there were no answers, only more questions, more unanswered, debilitating questions.
Soon after that night, Brinks applied for a transfer to a desk job and when a colleague had told him about this post in this quite peaceful and rich small town on the west coast, he taken it. Then three years ago he’d become religious and all of a sudden he’d found a reason for living again, and all of a sudden he was in love with his wife again. All of a sudden things were turning good. He liked it here, the most serious thing he had to deal with here was an occasional lawyer in a Ferrari running a stop sign.
Brinks sighed and drew an eye in the tip of the pyramid, but now he had a murder. He didn’t want a murder. He wanted to go home to Clara, she’d be waiting up for him. Her birthday was coming up soon. He almost never got home beyond 8 pm these days. And the few times he’d had to stay late, like when Dr. Pitrovsky had that overly wild dinner party or when the Roth girl had almost amputated her hand, Clara had waited up for him. He didn’t want a murder and he didn’t really like “Mr. Rich and Wealthy Mr. Legalized gambling somebody famous Varella who seemed to be really attracted to his recently murdered friend’s separated wife.
Brinks turned off the light and went home to his wife.